The Cleveland Browns will have a busy offseason to try and determine who to bring back and who to part ways with in free agency
The Cleveland Browns and their group of free agents available to move onto other teams for the 2022 season could be big this year.
While there are several current Browns that that team should try to re-sign like tight end David Njoku and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, there are several others that will likely leave to get better contracts and better opportunities.
Let’s take a look at some of these players.
Cleveland Browns free agent No.4 to leave: D’Ernest Johnson
D’Ernest Johnson has played with the Browns these last three seasons. He went undrafted out of the South Florida University but Cleveland picked up this former fisherman from the Florida Keys and he’s been a very valuable asset to the team’s running back group.
He had a great season and filled in nicely for the primary backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. He finished two games running for over 100 yards in the two starts he made this season. He had 534 yards total and scored three touchdowns.
The highlighted game for Johnson was a Thursday Night Football contest in November when he ran for 146 yards on 22 carries against the Denver Broncos. He certainly seemed to know when the lights were on the brightest and played his best.
The fact the team has two other All-Pro backs in front of him on the depth chart will make bringing him back more difficult this offseason. He made $850,000 this season but he’s likely going to strike gold with some other NFL team. The Browns can match any offer he gets because he’s a restricted free agent, but it’s not likely that the team will counter an expensive offer.
The thought of keeping Johnson and re-signing him to a multi-year contract seems to be a stretch. However, the Browns would save some significant money if they parted ways with Kareem Hunt. His contract for 2022 is tied to being active and making the roster. Cleveland could save just under $5 million if they release him.
One wouldn’t think the team would go that direction for many reasons, including Hunt’s ties to his hometown of Cleveland. We’ll just have to see what types of offers Johnson receives.